Why do I think that younger generations won’t continue the tradition of large church buildings? I have several generalizations to offer that lead me to that opinion. (Remember that generalizations are nothing more than that. I have a dog that climbs trees and sometimes purrs when she’s happy. She’s still a dog, just doesn’t always act like one)
- Younger generations don’t like to give money to abstractions. What I mean is, they are generous, at times (though some studies suggest that each successive generation is less generous). But they want to give their money to specific things. Build a house. Dig a well. Buy some medicine. And they want to choose exactly how their money is used. Dropping it into a collection plate so that the electric bill can be paid doesn’t motivate them.
- Younger generations don’t tend to be joiners. At least not of traditional organizations. They don’t want to be a member of an association; they want to be part of a posse. A posse forms, does its thing and disbands. No long time obligations. No hierarchy. Join, function, leave.
- Younger generations don’t trust the recent past. What they see around them is evidence of failure: economic disparities, hunger, sickness, war. They respect the ancient past, but not what modernism has done with it. As the saying goes, they want Jesus, but not the church.
- Younger generations tend to be pragmatic. A big building is wasteful. It’s much more practical to use the homes that we already own, or to use coffee shops, restaurants and bars, rather than construct a monument to inefficiency.
Those are some of the things that I see. Help me expand the list, or point out to me where I missed the boat. What attitudes do you see among people under 40 that will affect the future of the church building as we know it?